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The Anxiety Landscape and Plant Therapy-Based Clinical Trials

Statistics released in 2018 estimated that 3.2 million Australians had an anxiety-related condition. The World Health Organisation estimates that one in three individuals globally suffer from an anxiety disorder, making it the most common mental disorder in the world.

The Anxiety Landscape 

The anxiety landscape is vast; anxiety disorders encapsulate a wide variety of phobias as well as specific types of anxiety. The most common anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder (SAD) or social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Phobias of specific objects, animals, and situations are also categorised under anxiety disorders.

Signs of Anxiety

Considering the vast list of conditions that fall under the category of anxiety disorders, it is easy to see that the symptoms and signs of each of these anxiety disorders can drastically differ. Below is a list of some of the most common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders.

  • Nervousness
  • Restlessness
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Trembling
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Excessive worrying
  • Agitation
  • Unexplained irritability
  • Sleep issues
  • Easily fatigued
  • Sweating

When Should You Seek Help for Anxiety? 

If you or a loved one have been experiencing a combination of the above symptoms for a prolonged period of time, it’s highly recommended you seek medical consultation. If the symptoms have been interfering with your relationships, creating persistent sleep issues, affecting your ability to concentrate and complete daily tasks, or keeping you from doing the things you enjoy, you should seek medical guidance immediately.

How Is Anxiety Diagnosed?

It may take some time to properly diagnose anxiety disorders. In order to pinpoint and provide a diagnosis, doctors will need to complete a complete physical exam to rule out any illnesses that may be causing your symptoms. Once medical professionals have ruled out any underlying medical conditions as a potential cause for your symptoms, it is likely that you will undergo one or several diagnostic tests. Some of the most common diagnostic tests utilised to provide an anxiety disorder diagnosis include the following.

  • Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale
  • Hamilton Anxiety Scale (HAM-A)
  • Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI)
  • Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN)
  • Penn State Worry Questionnaire
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale
  • Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (YBOCS)

Each of these diagnostic tests are questionnaires and self-assessment tools that will help doctors provide a proper diagnosis. Many types of anxiety disorders have their own specific criteria that must be met in order for a diagnosis to be given.

The Endocannabinoid System & Anxiety

The body’s endogenous cannabinoid system, also known as the endocannabinoid system or ECS, has been proven to play a vital role in many of our body’s functions. When it comes to its role in regulating anxiety, it seems to be a love-hate relationship. Many anecdotal reports show that specific varieties of cannabis can help to relieve anxiety-related symptoms; however, others can accelerate them, like adding gas to a fire. Like with many plant therapies, including cannabinoid therapies, the results can drastically differ from one patient to the next. Here is what research has to say thus far.

A 2018 Australian study showed that 92 of 1,748 participants saw improvement of anxiety symptoms utilising cannabinoid therapies. In 2019, a study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research showed similar results, with 92% of respondents reporting improvement in their anxiety symptoms with the use of cannabinoid therapies. Additionally, in a 2007 animal-based study, researchers concluded that THC exhibited dose-dependent effects on anxiety, with the maximum anxiolytic effect corresponding to the highest dosage of THC.

Traditional Treatments for Anxiety

Standard treatments for anxiety disorders include medications and psychotherapy. Many individuals who have been diagnosed with anxiety disorders work with a therapist to help reduce and manage their anxiety-related symptoms. It has been found that cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most effective at treating anxiety. Anti-anxiety medications typically come in the form of sedatives, beta-blockers, or benzodiazepines. In some circumstances, antidepressants may also be utilised to treat anxiety disorders.

Plant Therapies for Anxiety Clinical Trial Synopsis 

Currently, BOD Australia is recruiting patients with various health conditions, including anxiety, for an open-label observational study of the safety and efficiency of pharmaceutical-grade cannabis medicine for various indications. Learn more about this clinical trial or register your interest here.

To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.

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The PTSD Landscape and Plant Therapy-Based Clinical Trials

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD for short, is a widely known disease with high prevalence in countries around the world. While in the past PTSD was most often associated with military personnel, our understanding of this mental health condition is much greater today. According to the majority of available sources, including Psychology Today, the prevalence of PTSD is much higher among women than men. Current statistics estimate that PTSD affects 2.1%-2.3% of the global population, and according to Phoenix Australian, there are over one million Australians, or an estimated 4.4% of the AU population, living with PTSD at any point in time.

The PTSD Landscape 

PTSD comes in three primary subtypes. These include Complex PTSD, Comorbid PTSD, and Dissociative PTSD. Each of these three types of PTSD is characterized by its own unique set of symptoms, prevalence, and risks. 

Signs of PTSD

PTSD results from living through and surviving a traumatic event. However, each subset of PTSD also has its own underlying triggers. According to the Mayo Clinic, the most common symptoms and signs of PTSD include but are not limited to the following.

  • Intrusive memories which may include recurrent and unwanted memories of a traumatic event, flashbacks, nightmares, or dreams of the event
  • Avoiding discussion regarding the event as well as places, people, and activities that may remind a person of the traumatic event
  • Feelings of hopelessness and detachment
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships
  • Recurrent negative thoughts
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Concentration and/or memory issues
  • Easily frightened and/or startled
  • Aggressive outbursts of anger and constant irritability

When Should You Seek Help for PTSD? 

The severity and intensity of symptoms associated with PTSD can greatly vary between individuals. They can also greatly vary for an individual from one day to the next and sometimes even from one moment to the next. If you have lived through a traumatic event and have experienced disturbing feelings or thoughts surrounding it for more than a month, it is highly advised to seek medical help.

If you have suddenly developed severe symptoms or they have become increasingly more severe over time, it is also advisable to speak to a mental health professional. If at any time you feel suicidal, it is essential that you reach out to a mental health professional, friends, loved ones, a spiritual leader, or a trained counselor through resources such as Lifeline Australia, which offers 24-hour suicide prevention and crisis resources via phone text and online chat.

How Is PTSD Diagnosed?

In order to diagnose PTSD, a medical professional will have to complete both a mental and physical exam. During the evaluations, professionals will look at things such as the type of event that was experienced and the individual person’s response. Doctors will also look at how the events are being re-experienced within daily activities and what is causing that to occur. An extensive look at personal history is also essential to see how an individual has coped after a traumatic event, as well as how they have coped with the memories that come with it. Understanding just how long symptoms have been present, as well as any change in severity and frequency, is essential in diagnosing PTSD.

The Endocannabinoid System & PTSD

Plant therapies are essential to the health and functionality of our body’s endogenous cannabinoid system, commonly known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system contains receptors throughout organs and tissues in our bodies that work with plant compounds to help regulate many functions within our anatomy. A study from 2020 showed that a low dose of THC resulted in a significant reduction of fear and anxiety among PTSD patients facing scenarios formulated to trigger these responses. This shows that THC may be able to help lower threat-related amygdala reactivity in PTSD patients.

Additional studies have shown that plant compounds are able to stimulate CB1 receptors within the ECS, helping to improve a process known within animal studies as extinction learning. Extinction learning is essentially the belief that old memories of a specific scenario can be overridden with new memories through exposure time and time again. This process does not occur within the brains of those with PTSD. It is believed that through plant therapies, this process may be able to be triggered within PTSD patients similar to how it was within animal studies.

Traditional Treatments for PTSD

Traditional treatments for PTSD include medication such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety formulations. The main focus of PTSD treatment, however, is therapies that confront the memories and triggers of the survived event and processes by which to overcome them. Some of the most common trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapies recommended for PTSD patients are Prolonged Exposure (PE), Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), and Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy.

Plant Therapies for PTSDClinical Trial Synopsis 

It is easy to find stories of individuals attributing their ability to overcome PTSD to plant therapies. To date, the research available from countries worldwide surrounding plant therapies in the treatment of PTSD has proven to offer much hope.

BOD Australia is currently conducting an observational study and is actively recruiting individuals that have been diagnosed with PTSD for a study looking at the use of high CBD and low THC medicinal cannabis and how it affects PTSD symptoms. Learn more about this study and register your interest here.

To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.

The Cancer Landscape and Plant Therapy-Based Clinical Trials

Cancer is a disease that has affected almost everyone in one manner or another. Cancer can be defined as a disease of the cells. Specifically, cancer is when abnormal cells grow in an uncontrolled manner. These cells cause damage to surrounding tissues and can spread to other parts of the body, resulting in more damage.

The Cancer Landscape 

There are over 100 various types of cancer that are commonly named after the organs or tissues in which cancer first formed. Some of the most common forms of cancer that you may have heard of include breast cancer, lung cancer, prostate cancer, colon cancer, melanoma, lymphoma, and leukemia. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, in 2018 there were an estimated 18 million cancer cases globally. According to the Australian Cancer Council, cancer is the leading cause of death in Australia, with more than 150,000 new cases diagnosed in 2020 alone. That same year, just under 50,000 individuals in Australia lost their lives to cancer.

Signs and Symptoms of Cancer

The specific signs and symptoms of cancer will vary drastically depending on the area of the body affected. In general, however, there are several common signs and symptoms of cancer that everyone should be aware of. According to Cancer Institute NSW, five of the most common signs and symptoms of cancer include the following:

  • Unusual Lumps or Swelling
  • Fever
  • Unexplained Aches and Pains
  • Unexplained Weight Loss
  • Severe Fatigue or Extreme Tiredness

When Should You Seek Help for Cancer Symptoms? 

Health Direct suggests that if you notice any changes in suspected cancer symptoms, you should seek immediate medical attention. The success of treating cancer highly depends on how early it is detected. If you have been experiencing any of the above symptoms for more than two weeks or notice a sudden change in the severity of any symptoms, it is also recommended that you speak with your doctor right away.

How Is Cancer Diagnosed?

When it comes to diagnosing cancer, it can sometimes take time and several different tests to receive an accurate diagnosis. Because cancer can grow slowly, sometimes it can be present for months or years before causing any symptoms. Various tests can be utilized to diagnose cancer, depending on your specific symptoms and their location on your body. These tests include blood tests, MRI scans, ultrasounds, X-rays, and CT scans. If these tests reveal anything of concern, your doctor will likely take a small sample of the affected tissue using a procedure known as a biopsy to examine it further in a laboratory. The biopsy helps doctors learn more about the type of cancer and how aggressive it is within the body.

The Endocannabinoid System & Cancer 

Plant therapies work with the body’s endocannabinoid system to assist with many functions within our anatomy. According to the University of Newcastle, Australia, “Laboratory tests conducted at the University of Newcastle and Hunter Medical Research Institute have shown that a modified form of medicinal cannabis can kill or inhibit cancer cells without impacting normal cells, revealing its potential as a treatment rather than simply a relief medication.”

There have also been numerous research studies conducted around the globe that have proven cannabis’ efficacy in relieving many of the common signs and symptoms associated with cancer and cannabis is effective at relieving symptoms without the side effects of traditional treatment. In 2019, researchers at Amity University in India conducted a detailed scientific review of the literature surrounding the effects of cannabinoids on various cancer types and discovered the following.

Plant compounds such as THC and CBD can “exert potent [anti-growth] activity and activate various apoptotic mechanisms eventually leading to cell death.” This was found in studies surrounding glioma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.

Another study in their review found that when cancer cells were treated with synthetic versions of endocannabinoids, they activated receptors that killed cancer cells.

Additionally, a clinical trial researching the utilization of cannabinoid therapies in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme showed that those treated with cannabinoid therapies had a higher one-year survival rate of 83%, which is much greater than the placebo group at 53%.

Traditional Treatments for Cancer

Most commonly, cancer is fought with one or a combination of the following treatments:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiotherapy
  • Immunotherapy
  • Hormone Therapy
  • Surgery to Remove Cancerous Tissue
  • Stem Cell Transplants

In addition to the therapy utilised in hopes of killing the cancerous cells and tissues, many cancer patients are also prescribed a plethora of other medications to address the side effects and symptoms of cancer and the treatments employed to fight it. These often include antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications to help with the mental health issues one may experience after a cancer diagnosis and while undergoing treatment, in addition to pain medications, nausea medications, and other types of medication.

Plant Therapies for CancerClinical Trial Synopsis 

The utilisation of plant therapies such as cannabis in the treatment of cancer and its various symptoms and side effects has been widely documented in anecdotal studies of success and scientific research for many years. The majority of research available today offers much hope for plant therapies in the treatment of various cancers. Currently, researchers at the University of Newcastle are recruiting patients for an interventional open-label study on the use of medicinal cannabis in advanced cancer patients. The eligibility requirements for this study include the following.

  • 18 years or older
  • A confirmed advanced cancer diagnosis
  • A predicted life expectancy of 6 to 12 months at the time of consent
  • Persistent symptoms of nausea, anorexia, or refractory pain that have not been responsive to standard treatments
  • Participants must be willing and able to comply with all requirements set forth by the study agreement
  • Any participants capable of childbearing must use adequate contraception

To learn more about the study and to register for eligibility, check out the official details in the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry here.

To see if you are eligible for plant-based therapies, you can book a telehealth appointment with one of our specialist doctors through Cannatrek Access.